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Q A on DfES Guidelines Consultation

Page history last edited by Dani 12 years, 6 months ago
 
This is the text of a leaflet we plan to distribute at home ed. groups in Brighton & Hove, together with a paper consultation form and a pre-addressed envelope to send it back in.  We're also planning to produce a bound copy of the draft guidelines for each group, so that people can read it while they are there.  If anyone in other areas would like to use some or all of this text for similar initiatives, feel free. 
Why should home educators respond to the DfES consultation on home education guidelines?
Because we are the experts on home education, so it is right that our voice should be heard.
Local Authorities are confused about the law on home education and how it relates to their responsibilities under the Children Act 2004. Some authorities are telling home educating families that they have to accept home visits and that their education has to be approved by the Local Authority. Some authorities demand to see examples of ‘work’ done by home educated children, and some think they should have the right to turn up unannounced on families’ doorsteps to check up on the education being provided. 
Staff from these Local Authorities will be responding to the consultation. We need to make sure that they are outnumbered by responses from home educators, home educated children, and home education groups.
The guidelines will not be enforced, so why does it matter what is in them?
The experience of home educators in Scotland has been that some Local Authorities continue to overstep their legal powers, even with statutory guidance in place. Good guidelines won’t solve all our problems with Local Authorities in England, but bad guidelines could make them worse.
We know, for example, that Brighton & Hove City Council EOTAS department intends to use the DfES guidelines as a basis for its new policy on home education. 
Clear guidelines from the DfES could help home educators to convince Local Authorities that demanding visits or examples of work is not helpful to home educated children, and is not allowed under the current law.
On the other hand, if the guidelines are not clear about Local Authorities’ powers and duties, they will be used by LA staff to continue this kind of heavy handed treatment.
How do I participate in the consultation?
You can fill in the consultation form online at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/conRespond.cfm?consultationId=1477
Or use the paper version of the form, which is included in this pack.
You need to get your response in by July 31st.
What do the draft guidelines say?
You can download the consultation document from:

http://tinyurl.com/2kbjug

Or read the paper copy which HEdline has made available at all the local home education groups. If you don’t have a paper copy at your group and you would like one, please contact us on enquiries@hedline.org.uk
What are the key points to get across?
Below are some key points you may want to include in your response to the consultation. These are based on discussions on home education blogs and email lists, and locally within HEdline.
If you would like to join in with these discussions, here are some useful links:
The consultation document does not ask questions about all the sections of the draft guidelines, but if you have comments about anything in the guidelines, you can include them in the comments spaces after each question or the general comments space at the end of the document.
Key points
  • Currently, many Local Authorities do not appear to understand the law, and in some cases they have misrepresented their legal powers and duties. For these guidelines to be helpful, they need to be clear and unambiguous. They should be addressed solely to Local Authorities, and not also to parents.
  • In particular, Local Authorities appear to be confused about the relationship between their duties in relation to education and their duties under the Children Act 2004. The guidelines should make it clear that the Children Act 2004 does not require Local Authorities to seek out problems (be they educational or other welfare issues) where there is no reason to believe that there are any and that home education, in itself, is not a reason to suspect that child welfare problems exist.
  • Local Authorities have no duty to monitor the suitability of education provided otherwise than at school. They have a duty to take action only if there is reason to believe that a child is not receiving an efficient, full-time education, suitable to that child’s age, ability and aptitude. 
  • Local Authorities should make no distinction between families who choose home education for different reasons or between families from different communities. The references to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families in the draft guidelines are discriminatory and inappropriate.
  • Local Authorities should not give the impression to home educating parents that they have a right to enter the family home, to meet home educated children, to see examples of ‘work’ or to assess educational progress.
  • Local Authorities do have a duty to comply with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

     

    "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

     

 

 

  • A statement of special educational needs is very often no longer relevant to the needs of home educated children. Parents can ask for a statement to be ceased, and Local Authorities should not unreasonably refuse to do this. If a statement is maintained for a home educated child, there is no legal requirement for parents to provide anything specified in the statement, and Local Authorities may not insist that they do.  
  • Local Authorities should make sure that they are familiar with the wide range of educational provision made by home educating parents, and that all personnel likely to come across home educators are trained to understand them. Examples would include social workers, health visitors, etc. Local Authority staff should not use a tick-box approach in their dealings with home educators – there is no single list of resources or characteristics that define a suitable education for every child.

Comments (2)

Roxy said

at 5:59 am on May 29, 2007

Great idea, Allie, Dani.

Would it be OK to lift all but the bit about B & H and use it elsewhere?

Also, (feeling a bit mean suddenly - my printer seems to gobble ink), do you have a good plan re covering the printing costs of the paper copies of the consultation,(which together with the guidance comes out at 14 pages a time?)

Dani said

at 7:44 am on May 31, 2007

Hi. I've answered this on ahedmembers, but if anyone else wants to use it, please do - that's why I put it up here. Also, you can get the DfES to send you extra copies of the form and draft guidelines. Call Helen White on 020 7925 6497

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